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Chapter 21: The Fifth Commandment

Chapter 21: The Fifth Commandment

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Chapter 21: The Fifth Commandment

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  1. Chapter 21: The Fifth Commandment INTRODUCTION TO CATHOLICISM

  2. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) ANTICIPATORY SET Read the story of St. Gianna Beretta Molla (p. 488), and then imagine you are the child to whom St. Gianna gave birth shortly before she died. Write a letter to St. Gianna expressing what you think of her decision.

  3. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) BASIC QUESTIONS Why is human life sacred? What is the meaning of the Fifth Commandment in the Old Testament? What is the meaning of the Fifth Commandment in the New Testament? KEY IDEAS Every human life is sacred from conception until natural death and deserves respect because each human being is made in the image of God. The basic meaning of the Fifth Commandment in the Old Testament is that it is gravely wrong to intentionally kill an innocent person. In the Sermon on the Mount, Christ extended the acts prohibited by the Fifth Commandment to the root causes of murder: anger, hatred, and vengeance. He also commanded his disciples to love all people, even enemies, as God loves his creatures.

  4. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS What does the Fifth Commandment mean specifically? It means that nobody may murder, i.e., kill an innocent person. Extension: “You shall not kill” does not proscribe the killing of plants, insects, animals for food, or an intruder wielding a deadly weapon. What is the positive meaning of the Fifth Commandment? It calls every person to recognize the dignity of every human being and the sacredness of human life.

  5. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to analyze the Catechism, no. 2319 (p. 488) using the following questions: When is human life sacred? Which human lives are sacred? Why is human life sacred? What does it mean to be willed for its own sake? What does it mean to say human beings are made in the image and likeness of God?

  6. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS Are there circumstances in which a person can kill? Yes; he or she may kill another person in certain, limited circumstances. What is the first sin recorded in the Bible after the Fall of Adam and Eve? The murder of Abel by his brother Cain was the first recorded sin after the Fall.

  7. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS What did Cain answer to God when asked where his brother Abel was? Cain responded, “‘I do not know; am I my brother’s keeper?’” (Gn 4:9). Who is the sole end of human life? God is the sole end of human life.

  8. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS On what occasion did Christ discuss the Fifth Commandment? Jesus discussed it during the Sermon on the Mount. How did Christ perfect the Fifth Commandment? He gave it a deeper meaning, forbidding the root causes of murder: anger, hatred, and vengeance. How do sins of anger, revenge, hatred, and bearing grudges differ from direct or indirect murder? They differ by degree but are of the same type, or kind.

  9. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is direct murder? It is the intentional and direct killing of an innocent person. How morally serious is murder? It is a grave sin.

  10. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTION What are examples of indirect murder? Examples include putting the life of someone at risk without grave reason and refusing to help someone in danger. Extension: The former is a sin of commission, whereas the latter is a sin of omission; people often wrongly conflate “indirect” with “sin of omission.”

  11. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS How morally serious is indirect murder? It is gravely serious. How can a person be guilty of murder in the cases of regional or worldwide problems like famine, poverty, or genocide? He or she can benefit monetarily from them or fail to do anything about them given the opportunity.

  12. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS In the Sermon on the Mount, whom does Christ call his disciples to love? Christ calls them to love both friends and enemies. Why are even venial sins against the Fifth Commandment dangerous? They are morally dangerous because, left unchecked, venial sins can lead to mortal sins.

  13. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to brainstorm three examples of how you encounter enemies in their ordinary lives and how they might love rather than hate them.

  14. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) GUIDED EXERCISE Work with a partner to write and answer three Focus Questions about the most important issues in the sidebar “What About the Life or Health of the Mother?” (p. 473).

  15. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the sin of scandal? The sin of scandal is leading another person into sin through a particular action, inaction, law, institution, fashion, or opinion. Which people are most prone to the sin of scandal? Public figures, civil leaders, religious leaders, business leaders, and educators are most prone to this sin.

  16. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) FOCUS QUESTIONS Can young people also commit the sin of scandal? Yes; scandal is committed by the bad influence of any person of any standing who contributes to the temptation, weakness, or loss of virtue in others. Every young person has some standing in some other person’s eyes. When is scandal a grave offense? Scandal is grave when it leads to a grave offense in another.

  17. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 1-4 (p. 491) Practical Exercise 1 (p. 492) Workbook Questions 1-10 Read “Respect for Life at Its Beginning” through the sidebar “The Three Victims of Abortion” (pp. 474-478)

  18. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) CLOSURE Write a paragraph summarizing the meaning of the Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures.

  19. 1. The Fifth Commandment in the Sacred Scriptures (pp. 470-474) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Free write for five minutes relating Cain’s words, “‘Am I my brother’s keeper?” (Gn 4:9), to the Christian understanding of the Fifth Commandment.

  20. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) ANTICIPATORY SET Brainstorm reasons why people have abortions. Offer reasons women seek them and men encourage them.

  21. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) BASIC QUESTIONS What is abortion, and why is it wrong? What are other procedures that threaten life at its very beginning? KEY IDEAS Abortion is the direct, intentional destruction of a child after conception but before birth; it is gravely wrong because it is the murder of an innocent human life worthy of care and respect. Embryonic stem-cell research, human cloning, and prenatal tests and therapies are morally wrong to the extent that they harm the unborn child.

  22. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS Is an unborn child a human person? Yes. Why is directly killing an unborn child an especially evil form of murder? The unborn, developing child is the most innocent and defenseless human person.

  23. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTION Can a person claim that the unborn child is not a human person on the basis that he or she has not yet reached full development? No; from a biological perspective, the fertilized egg in the womb is a completely new organism with a unique genetic code, the blueprint of a fully developed person. Extension: The same argument could be made for already-born people, who do not stop developing physiologically until their early twenties.

  24. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTION What is an abortion? It is any intentional termination of unborn life after conception but before birth. An abortion is thus a violation of the Fifth Commandment. Extension: In medicine, the term abortion is used to refer to any termination of an unborn child, whether spontaneous (miscarriage) or induced (abortion). In this sense, a spontaneous abortion does not have a moral character since it is not an act of the human will.

  25. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS Why do people have abortions? People have abortions for a variety of reasons, including lack of readiness for motherhood, inconvenience, fear of familial or social repercussions, desire not to interrupt a career or educational goal, financial issues, fetal abnormalities, or the seeming injustice of having to carry the byproduct of the crime of rape or incest. Does any circumstance justify a direct abortion? No. Extension: Abortion in the case of rape or incest is an emotional issue, but killing an innocent person is morally wrong regardless of the circumstances of his or her conception.

  26. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS According to Pope Bl. John Paul II, how serious is direct abortion? Direct abortion, that is, abortion willed as an end or as a means, always constitutes a grave moral disorder because it is the deliberate killing of an innocent human being. What is the basis for the Church’s doctrine on abortion? Its basis is the natural law, Sacred Scripture, the Church’s Tradition, and her Magisterium. Extension: All human sciences (e.g., biology, psychology, physiology, etc.), properly understood, also support the prohibition of abortion.

  27. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the canonical penalty for abortion? One who knows that abortion is condemned and who performs it or formally cooperates in it in any way is automatically excommunicated from the Church. Extension: This is the same for any willful murder of an innocent person. What does excommunication mean? Excommunication means exclusion from the sacramental life of the Church.

  28. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTION What does excommunication lataesententiaemean? It means excommunication by the very commission of the offense. A person is automatically excommunicated the moment he or she commits the offense rather than, for example, after a canonical hearing finds wrongdoing.

  29. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the purpose of the penalty of excommunication? Excommunication is intended to educate all the faithful regarding the gravity of the sin of the offense and to prompt those who are culpable for the sin to seek forgiveness and reconciliation with God and with his Church. What is the moral penalty for abortion? Because it a grave (willful murder of an innocent person), those who perform abortion or cooperate in it are guilty of a mortal sin. The consequence of an unrepented, unforgiven mortal sin is eternal state of self-exclusion from God’s love, which is called Hell.

  30. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS How long has the Church opposed abortion? She has opposed abortion from her very founding. What is one of the earliest condemnations of abortion in Church history? The Didache, a first-century Christian text (c. AD 80), instructed Christians: “You shall not procure abortion. You shall not destroy a newborn child.” Extension: The latter practice refers to infanticide, which was also common in the ancient world.

  31. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTION Why is it incorrect to justify abortion by claiming that the “product of conception” up to a certain number of days or weeks is not a personal human life? (1) Modern genetic science confirms that the new life is a unique human being from the moment of conception. (2) Although ensoulment cannot be confirmed by science, sound philosophy affirms that as soon as human life appears, a human person is present. (3) If a person says he or she does not know when an unborn child becomes a person, that ignorance requires him or her to refrain from harming the unborn because it might lead to harming a human person. (4) The Church has always taught that human life, from the moment of conception, must be guaranteed due respect.

  32. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS In what sense can a mother who had an abortion be called a victim? She may suffer serious emotional, psychological, and physical wounds as a result of having an abortion. How can a father of an abortion victim be called a victim himself? He may have been opposed to the abortion or be filled with regret for not standing up for his defenseless child in the womb. Why should a person care about what happens to post-abortive women and men? He or she should care for them because Christ loves and forgives sinners.

  33. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is good about stem-cell research? Research performed on stem cells may someday provide a cure for currently incurable conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, juvenile diabetes, various neuromuscular disorders, and spinal cord injuries. Why is it wrong to use embryonic stem cells in research? Killing an embryo to obtain its stem cells violates the Fifth Commandment.

  34. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS Why is embryonic stem-cell research unnecessary? For years research on non-embryonic stem cells has been showing tremendous success. Why is it wrong to experiment on embryos? Experimenting on an embryo in a way that could harm it is a violation of its dignity as a human being, who is owed respect, protection, and care. Only procedures intended to benefit the embryo may be performed.

  35. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is human reproductive cloning? It is human cloning done with the intention of producing a new human being. What is therapeutic human cloning? It is human cloning done to “harvest” the stem cells, organs, or other body parts of a fetus for use in another person. What is the moral status of human cloning? Both reproductive human cloning and therapeutic human cloning are intrinsically grave immoral affronts to human dignity and the integrity of God’s plan for human reproduction.

  36. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) FOCUS QUESTIONS When are prenatal tests and therapies morally good? They are morally good when they are intended to protect or enhance the health or healing of the child. When are prenatal tests and therapies evil? They are morally evil when they are performed to determine whether the child should be aborted or are not intended to protect or enhance the life and health of the child. Under what circumstances are gene or chromosomal therapy on the embryo or unborn child licit or illicit? If they are undertaken to protect or enhance the health or healing of the unborn child, they are licit, but if they are done for other reasons, e.g., to produce “designer” babies, they are illicit.

  37. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) GUIDED EXERCISE Free write for a few minutes on the following prompt: In justifying abortion, some women argue, “It’s my body, and I have the right to decide what to do with it.” What is true about this statement, and does it justify direct abortion?

  38. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT Study Questions 5-7 (p. 491) Practical Exercise 2 (p. 492) Workbook Questions 11-20 Read “Respect for Life until Its Natural Death” through the sidebar “Discontinuing Medical Treatment vs. Euthanasia” (pp. 478-480)

  39. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) CLOSURE Write a paragraph explaining why abortion is morally wrong and should be illegal.

  40. 2. Respect for Life at Its Beginning (pp. 474-478) ALTERNATIVE ASSESSMENT Explore the following Web site to learn more about the negative physical, emotional, and psychological effects of abortion: http://www.usccb.org/prolife/issues/abortion/index.shtml

  41. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) ANTICIPATORY SET Some people have argued that a person with a “poor quality of life” should not be forced to live but helped to die, should be withheld medical care, or should be put to death. Brainstorm reasons these ideas are dangerous and wrong.

  42. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) BASIC QUESTIONS What are euthanasia and assisted suicide, and why are they wrong? What care must be given and what care may be withheld from a dying person? KEY IDEAS Euthanasia, which is the direct killing of a person by act or omission, and assisted suicide, in which a third party helps a person commit suicide, are morally wrong according the Fifth Commandment. It is morally acceptable (licit) to withhold or refuse extraordinary medical treatment from a sick person if no legitimate benefit can be foreseen; nonetheless, ordinary care, which includes nutrition and hydration, must always be provided.

  43. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTIONS What physical or mental illnesses diminish the value of a person? No physical or mental illnesses diminish the value of a person. Who has the right to end a person’s life? Only God may call someone from this life.

  44. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is euthanasia? Sometimes called “mercy killing,” euthanasia is the decision by a doctor, family member, or public official to end the life a person who has little or no chance of recovery from a serious condition and is judged to have a poor quality of life. What is the etymology of euthanasia? Euthanasia comes from the Greek euthanatos, which means a good, or sweet, death.

  45. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTION Before the rise of the recent euthanasia movement, what was the world’s experience with euthanasia in the twentieth century? Euthanasia was officially implemented in Nazi Germany between 1939 and 1941, during which time, the government euthanized more than 200,000 of its own citizens who had mental or physical disabilities.

  46. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTIONS How is assisted suicide distinct from euthanasia? In assisted suicide, the person who is suffering asks for help to die, whereas in euthanasia, the decision is not made by the sufferer. What is the objective evil of suicide? Killing oneself is a grave evil.

  47. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTION What is the culpability of a person who commits suicide? This cannot be known except to God alone, and the Church does not judge such persons. The serious emotional and psychological problems typically associated with suicide could affect a person’s culpability.

  48. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTIONS What is the minimum care that a suffering person must be given, no matter how grave his or her condition? He or she must be given ordinary care and medical treatment necessary for life and the palliation of pain. What does ordinary care include? Ordinary care always includes, but is not necessarily limited to, nutrition and hydration.

  49. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) FOCUS QUESTIONS What treatments can a suffering person, or someone acting on his or her behalf, refuse? He or she can refuse extraordinary or disproportionate means of sustaining life when there is almost no hope for recovery. Why was Terri Schiavo’s death unjust? She was starved and dehydrated to death and was thus unjustly denied the ordinary care of nutrition and hydration.

  50. 3. Euthanasia and Assisted Suicide (pp. 478-480) GUIDED EXERCISE Performa paragraph shrink on the paragraph “Euthanasia must be distinguished…” (p. 480) to articulate the distinction between euthanasia and extraordinary forms of medical treatment.